The case against rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs comes down to a simple formula: three defendants and three guns, a prosecutor told jurors today (March 13) in New York as the trial neared its end. Infuri
The case against rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs comes down to a simple formula: three defendants and three guns, a prosecutor told jurors today (March 13) in New York as the trial neared its end. Infuriated by an insult from another patron, Combs and his rap protege suddenly opened fire inside a packed Manhattan nightclub, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos charged in his summation to the jury.
Bogdanos, addressing the panel for the last time, said that Combs, rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones each carried a 9 mm weapon on Dec. 27, 1999, while at Club New York in Times Square. "Three defendants," said Bogdanos, placing each of the weapons on the jury box railing. "Three guns."
According to trial testimony, Combs was leaving the club with then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez when another patron tossed a fistful of money in his direction. The gunshots followed within seconds, as Combs and Barrow each pulled a handgun, Bogdanos said.
"Mr. Barrow doesn't like his boss being disrespected," Bogdanos told the panel. Barrow, charged with attempted murder, was arrested as he fled the club with a 9 mm weapon in his waistband.
Combs, 31, and Jones, 34, were arrested several blocks from the club after they fled in a Lincoln Navigator SUV. They were charged with possession of a 9 mm found inside the vehicle, and of another 9 mm allegedly thrown from the SUV.
Combs and Jones were also charged with bribery for allegedly trying to persuade the SUV's driver, Wardell Fenderson, to take the gun rap for them. In his comments to the jury yesterday, Combs' attorney, Benjamin Brafman suggested that the weapon in the car actually belonged to Fenderson.
The weapons recovered in the car and on Eighth Avenue were virtual "twins, separated at birth, but brought together by the same people," Bogdanos said. Both of the black handguns contained exactly the same type of ammunition, he said -- and that was no coincidence.
Bogdanos also defended two of his eyewitnesses, Natania Reuben and Julius Jones, who were both wounded inside Club New York. Brafman had suggested their testimony was motivated by greed, since each has a pending civil suit against Combs.
Reuben, who was shot in the face, testified that she had a clear view of Combs when she said the rap impresario pulled his weapon and opened fire. Bogdanos reminded the jury what Reuben said when asked if there was anyone between her and Combs: "If there were, I wouldn't have gotten shot in the face."
Combs is not accused of injuring anyone inside the club. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Once Bogdanos completes his summation, the judge will instruct the jury on legal issues before deliberations begin. The trial began with opening statements Jan. 29.
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